Posts Tagged faith
I’ve been reading through the book of Romans again with some friends. Haven’t posted, but thanks for the emails asking if I was still reading daily!
I felt today’s reading was of interest, so here goes:
20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. – Romans 16:20 (NIV)
20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. – Romans 16:20 (NAS)
20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. – Romans 16:20 (NLT)
20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. – Romans 16:20 (KJV)
Something I noticed today is the word “your” in the sentence in verse 20. I checked it out in several translations. They all use the word “your”.
I noticed Peter writes: “God” will crush satan under “your” feet. Not “we” would crush satan under “our” feet, or even “God” would crush satan under “His” feet. Do you see the difference?
God will crush satan with OUR feet! That has a certain special meaning for me!
Check out Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse:
“The blessing the apostle expects from God, is victory over Satan. This includes all designs and devices of Satan against souls, to defile, disturb, and destroy them; all his attempts to keep us from the peace of heaven here, and the possession of heaven hereafter. When Satan seems to prevail, and we are ready to give up all as lost, then will the God of peace interpose in our behalf. Hold out therefore, faith and patience, yet a little while. If the grace of Christ be with us, who can prevail against us?”
Love that last sentence: Hold out faith and patience, yet a little while.
Here’s Matthew’s version:
18Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Matthew’s account is not my favorite, however, because it leaves out my five life-changing words, “It was out of season.” See Mark 11. Why are these words life changing for me?
Well, as I see it, the fig tree was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing – what God had created it to do. It was not the season for it to have figs. It was “resting”.
At first, I thought about how unfair that was for Jesus to curse a tree for doing exactly what God had created it to do – or, to be more exact, not do what it was not supposed to be doing.
But then, I felt God teaching me through this internal debate. You see, I’ve grown up being taught to pray “God’s will”. I had come to understand that everything had to be preceded or followed up with “if it be Your will.” Yet, it was not “God’s will” for this tree to have fruit at this time of the year. Still, Jesus prayed that the tree would wither and die and that no one would eat fruit from it again. And it did.
Then, the next day when the DUHciples acted so astounded that the tree was dead (particularly my favorite, Peter), Jesus laughed and told them that if they told a nearby mountain to get up and throw itself into the sea, and DID NOT DOUBT, that it would be done for them.
Hardly God’s will for a centuries old mountain to suddenly vanish into the ocean, huh?
So – I took all this to mean that my watered-down, powerless prayers were due to my lack of faith – how I believed that a prayer I muttered would be answered only if God willed it to happen. If He didn’t will it to happen it wouldn’t. So, why be concerned about faith? I was told to pray, so I did. That was the end of it. And, as a result, I seldom saw answers to my petitions to God.
Yet, with these five words God rekindled my understanding of the power of belief. Doubt is just as powerful, and I started to finally understand that. I began to practice praying and not doubting. I prayed confidently, less concerned with this internal debate about God’s will. Amazingly, I started seeing answers to my prayers – some small but some rather big. This increased my faith even more.
I should include a disclaimer about how you shouldn’t test God with selfish motives and inappropriate requests, but I think we all understand that.
Something to think about …
As I read Romans 1 this morning, I was amazed to see the correlation of what we’re studying in Wildmen, the Wild at Heart book by John Eldredge, and the first chapter of Romans. Paul is talking about how God has revealed himself with His invisible qualities, His power and His divine nature, since creation. And, yet some choose to ignore that, suppressing the Truth for their own wickedness:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
One thing I have come to understand is this: God created each of us with a plan. We may choose to live our lives seeking that plan (his will) and following Him, or we may choose to follow our own plan. Life is not “easy” either way because we were born into a battle between good and evil. But, I am convinced that following God and His plan for us is the only way to live a peaceful, happy, abundant life. People can choose to ignore God and make their own choices, but it always leads to consequences in ever-increasing difficulty and, ultimately in death and separation from God for eternity.
God makes it very clear. Sin is fun for a season. Some people get to the point where they abandon what they know about God and exchange the truth for their own wicked desires. That is where God turns them over to evil. I know people there now, learning hard lessons, living in turmoil and ruin, refusing to come back to God.
God will not force Himself upon us. He wants us to choose to have faith and believe in Him. Otherwise, we’d be just a bunch of robots, programmed to love God. Without faith, man may choose to worship God’s creation rather than God himself, leading to all kinds of trouble. I noticed several choice/consequences in this passage:
- They knew God, but chose to not glorify or give thanks to Him, so their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened (verse 21)
- They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like His creation, so God gave them over to shameful lusts (verses 25-26)
- They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind and they were filled with every kind of wickedness (verse 28)
My prayer for those people is that they would eventually get to the place where all they can do is look up and see God. I’ve been there. It’s not a good place. But, God is still there to pick us up and put us back on the road to Him. That road is not easy but the peace and comfort, knowing God is at the end, makes life worth living.
Have a great day!
I have often told the analogy of the God-shaped hole inside all of us that can only be completely and satisfactorily filled by God Himself. We try to fill it with “stuff”, with relationships, with drugs, with food, with alcohol, with hobbies, with projects and careers, but the pleasure from these things is short lived, leaving us wanting more, more, more.
Babylon was full of idols and statues. There were statues errected to everything – water, earth, love, war. Godless people, realizing the deep need to connect with God, but rejecting the one true God, set up many gods. When they got tired of bored with those, they set up more.
So it was with King Nebuchadnezzar. He somehow gets this idea to build a 90 foot staute of himself made of solid gold (could it have been the miracle dream interpretation God gave Daniel?). Obviously a music fan, the king commanded that whenever people heard music, they were to bow down to the newest statue.
3 When all these officials had arrived and were standing before the image King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, 4 a herald shouted out, “People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” 7 So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Can you imagine? That would get old after a very short time.
You know the rest of the story, our Jewish friends who had recently been captured and exiled to Babylon, now in service to the palace of the king, all refused to bow – prefering instead the risk of certain death in a furnace. How fleeting the honor bestowed on them by this king. From prisoner to stewards of all the affairs of the province of Babylon – to death by fire.
I often wonder if it was faith that God would spare their lives, or the simple refusal to bow to such a vile, godless king. What I read about the Jewish culture tells me they are very proud and honor is vital to the nation of Israel.
As the story goes, God did spare the lives of these faithful young men – even to the point of being in the furnace with them:
24 But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?””Yes,” they said, “we did indeed, Your Majesty.” 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire. They aren’t even hurt by the flames! And the fourth looks like a divine being!”
The king called them to come out of the furnace. They were not harmed and didn’t even smell of smoke. Obviously, this alarmed this king that he had better honor this God before He looses patience with him. Look what the king said:
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be crushed into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to even higher positions in the province of Babylon.
In the end, God received the glory because of the decision these young men made. They took a stand – took the risk – and God was honored. And, so were they.
How do you appy this to your life? What compromise are you facing? Isn’t it much easier and less risky to compromise on your beliefs, and go along with the crowd, or satisfy some desire for momentary pleasure? Consider the rewards and the honor God would receive if you decided to take a stand.
That’s true satisfaction.
You occasionally hear a story of someone who, when faced with unbearable circumstances beyond their control, walks away from anything and everything that has to do with God. Certainly, there are times when our “trials” seem overwhelming and downright unfair.
In those times, I’ve found it’s helpful to stop and take a look around. It’s never too difficult to find someone in a situation far worse than your own. When I’m drowning in my own difficulties, somehow knowing that I’m not the only one suffering is comforting. I guess it’s that feeling that “I’m the only one” satan uses to plunge me deeper into despair.
Today, my hope came as I the first chapter of Daniel, which is the next book my dBrag has chosen to start reading together.
I began reading about Daniel and his buddies, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. You might recognize these last three better by knowing their new Babylonian names: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
I’ve heard the story dozens of times since I was a child, but perhaps always out of context, because today I seemed to focus on how Daniel and his buds had just been dragged to a foreign country after egocentric King Nebuchadnezzar had recently finished crushing their country. Torn from the familiar and comfortable, they now find themselves prisoners to idolaters. They could have easily thrown in the towel.
But Daniel stood strong.
He even went as far as to bargain with his captors, asking them to allow him and his companions for treatment other than what had been ascribed by the King:
8 But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief official for permission to eat other things instead.
Pretty gutsy, no? Then, it dawned on me as I read the very next sentence:
9 Now God had given the chief official great respect for Daniel.
Ashpenaz, who was in charge of the palace eunuchs, had been tasked with selecting some of Judah’s strongest, healthiest, best-looking children (see KJV) for the purpose of serving in the palace. The king wanted them to know the language and literature of the Babylonians, so they needed to be bright and handsome, with noble and royal pedigree.
Was it any mistake that Ash had selected Daniel and his cohorts? I think not. You see, God had already begun to intervene. God gave Ash “great respect” for Daniel. God was setting the stage for His power and glory to be displayed to Babylon – and the great King Nebuchadnezzar.
As a matter of fact, this chapter is full of God’s influence:
2 The Lord gave him [King Nebuchadnezzar] victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah.
17a God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for learning the literature and science of the time.
17b And God gave Daniel special ability in understanding the meanings of visions and dreams.
Others were selected along with Daniel and the boys, but we don’t hear about them. Daniel could have easily given up and gone along with the demands of their new captors, but he didn’t. Look at verse 8:
8 But Daniel made up his mind not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king.
Daniel made up his mind to stand strong. His faith did not waiver – and God honored that.
What do you face today? Wouldn’t it be much easier to cave and go along with whatever life throws at you? What is it that holds you captive? Sometimes it’s difficult to choose to make a stand on something you believe in. Can you look your captor in the face and refuse to defile yourself any longer, like David did?
God moves in mysterious ways!
He WILL give you what you need when you need it – just don’t give up. He has the power to influence your captors. By taking your stand, you will be rewarded and others will benefit as well, as we’ll see in the following chapters of the book of Daniel.